Any person who has been following ukulele players, and aspires to buy one for them, will soon come to find out that there are definitely some really expensive instruments out there. Many people think they are clearly worth the money otherwise they wouldn’t exist. However, as someone who is just getting into music, or is a working-class musician, it can be difficult to justify splurging a ton of cash on one ukulele.
The question of whether or not expensive ukuleles sound better is not as simple as it seems, you will soon find out why.
The Difference Between a Cheap Ukulele and A Quality Ukulele
As a rule of thumb, we as customers tend to believe that the higher the price, the better the quality. In most cases, it can be and it is true. That does not necessarily mean that an inexpensive ukulele is not worth the price. Or, that one should only buy the most expensive ukuleles available in the market. Here are some things that have a hand in the price of these instruments. Knowing about them will help you decide which ukulele actually is worth your money.
Quality of the Materials
Just like most products, quality is not the only contributing factor to the price of a ukulele. There are other equally important factors as well. The main factor is going to be materials.
You do not really get a true wood body with the cheaper ukuleles (or wood anything). You might find them made of plastic, composite, or scrap-wood. Sure, all of these are cheap to generate, but it is not a good choice on an instrument.
To the ear, these materials can sound rough. They lack vibrancy and warmth and sound a little dull. With real wood, you’re much better off (which will include laminate). They tend to use genuine wood specifically grown for quality tools.
Besides being aesthetically pleasing to look at, wood ukuleles also sound significantly better. Tonewoods are woods that are grown and used primarily for instruments. As well as being durable enough to last for decades, they have to be a fine blend of sound quality.
Usually, ukuleles are made from very unique woods. Mahogany, Koa, Cedar, Pine, and Spruce, most generally. Other woods and other sub-species of these woods exist. However, these are the most traditional woods to be used in ukuleles.
The wood will be dry-aged for moisture removal in the higher-end instruments. This takes place often over a very long period of time. This makes sure that the wood no longer moves and doesn’t lose its form. Using a professional wood kiln is a more modern technique. A kiln is basically a low heat oven that, in a much shorter period of time, removes moisture.
Wood is used for the body, spine, fingerboard, bridge, and bracing on quality ukuleles. This is important to the instrument’s overall resonance. Throughout the ukulele, from the bottom of the body to the top of the headstock, the sound vibrations should be unimpeded.
Typically, the remaining bits are simply the bridge saddle, nut, tuners, and binding (when used). Most of the time, the bridge saddle and nut are made of a specific plastic. The plastic is made for instruments specifically and lasts a very long time. These will sometimes be made from bone that is sustainable.
You’ll find upgraded tuners in quality ukuleles. This is what holds the tension of the string and keeps the strings in tune. You will find cheap tuners on cheap ukuleles. These tend to be less accurate to tuning, will not stay in place, and will not hold their tuning once you get it there.
Also Read: Top 5 Ukulele for Guitarists
Bracing is the most overlooked component of any acoustic stringed instrument. On the top and bottom, the braces are within the ukulele. There are two functions it serves: strengthening the ukulele’s top and back, and enhancing the ukulele’s inherent acoustics.
This is a skill that takes a lot of practice in order to do it well. The purpose is to support the ukulele so that, while improving the ukulele’s sound and projection, the top and back do not bow or warp over time.
The quality of construction also has to do with how the neck is attached to the body, how the body’s top, back, and sides are connected, and how the bridge is fused to the top. As well as the accuracy of all this. Cheaper ukuleles prefer to use faster techniques for higher turnover.
The bridge may come unglued over time, the sides may come away from the top and back of the body, and its slot may be moved by the spine. These are often repairable but at a great price.
How the ukulele is set up is another extremely important factor. With well-constructed ukuleles, you get something that is already easy to play. That implies that the height of the string is not too low or high, the neck has the right amount of bow, the frets are level and flush with the neck, and it plays like a dream overall. Keep in mind that these ukuleles do not necessarily have to be expensive or heavy on your pocket.
We hope by now, you have also come to understand the answer to the question. It can be said that good quality ukuleles that sound better may be expensive. If you will want to simplify and think of this as a Yes or No question, then sure. Expensive ukuleles do sound better. Does that mean, you should spend a fortune trying to get your hands on the most expensive ukulele available in the market? Certainly not! There are plenty of reasonably priced options out there for you to choose from.